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ROOKJE MEIJERINK
Rookje Meijerink is a freelance writer with a background in public relations and a degree in architectural history. She has worked for Rotterdam-based architects Atelier Kempe Thill and for architecten van Mourik in The Hague, and has a keen interest in architecture, design and urbanism. She works and lives in Rotterdam, to keep a close eye on everything that goes on in the Netherlands’ most cosmopolitan city.
Another year of architecture for the city of Rotterdam.

2007 may have been the official ‘year of architecture’ for Rotterdam, 2008 looks just as promising. Rookje Meijerink has all the latest on recent and forthcoming projects in the ‘city that is never finished’.

 
Those who arrive at Rotterdam’s Central Station in the next few years to come will definitely notice the city’s ever changing nature. The old railway station, built in the decade after the Second World War, is already being replaced by a new, more up to date structure that meets modern travellers' needs. The new station will be a hub for national and international travel and a gateway to the metropolitan city centre. Team CS, a cooperation between Benthem Crouwel Architects, Meyer and Van Schooten Architects and West 8 urban design & landscape architecture, is responsible for the design.

The old isn’t necessarily always replaced by the new. Along the waterfront of the Maas River are a number of old, disused harbour areas from the nineteenth and early twentieth century, which are currently being redeveloped into residential, and business quarters. The existing structures are being transformed to accommodate offices and apartments, with new structures going up alongside them.
No better example than the Lloydkwartier, a harbour area on the north bank of the river that was in use well into the eighties. One of the former warehouses, St. Jobsveem, is now being transformed into unique housing estate aimed at young creatives. Opposite, the former Schiecentrale energy plant is now a media centre, 25 kV. A new extension to the energy plant houses the studios and offices for Rotterdam’s television station, while a second extension, one of the city’s largest recent residential projects, is currently reaching its completion. Both the transformation of the former warehouse and energy plant, and the new extensions have been designed by Mei architects and planners.
Also in the Lloydkwartier is the spectacular new building of the city’s largest nautical school, the Shipping and Transport College, built by Neutelings Riedijk and completed in 2005. The tower, shaped like a periscope and clad in metal panels that resemble containers, does not look like a traditional school at all. The seventy metres high tower has a mixed program of

educational spaces, offices and public functions. A route of escalators links the different departments from the lobby all the way to the top. The low-rise part of the building contains the special facilities like simulator rooms, restaurants, a media centre, a sports centre, and workshops. The cantilevered floors at the top of the tower accommodate the schools conference room, which boasts a great view of the port of Rotterdam lying further to the west. The meandering building volume forms a vertical icon for this international centre of maritime knowledge.

Last October the new X-Ray-Scan for Dutch Customs was opened in the port of Rotterdam. The building, which can be relocated and used in the entire port area, houses a scanner for containers being shipped into the Netherlands. The simple yet visually challenging design was made by GROUP A. The deep grooves of the aluzinc cladding accentuate the dynamic shape of the scanner, while their play of light and shadow adds another layer to the visual experience of the building.

The Kop van Zuid, on the south bank of the river, was the first harbour to be redeveloped. From the late eighties and onward the area has seen an enormous amount of building activity, from the transformation of the former head-quarters of the Holland America Line into a hotel and restaurant to the going up of Rotterdam’s new courthouse, the new Luxor theatre and the highest residential building in the Netherlands, Mecanoo’s Montevideo tower.
As a part of the effort to regenerate the area OMA has designed De Rotterdam, three multifunctional towers that will feature space for corporate offices, residential apartments, a hotel, restaurants, cinema and retail shopping – creating a bustling vertical city that is active 24 hours a day. Building starts this year, while completion is foreseen in 2011.
Nearby, inside the main hall of the city courthouse, the Information centre by Atelier Kempe Thill is reaching its completion. The program of this small pavilion, an extension of

the courthouse, asked for a building where information can be provided to the public; to underline its public function the pavilion is almost entirely made of glass, thus stressing the transparency of the legal system.
Opposite to the courthouse is the future location of the new headquarters for Deloitte, the Maas Tower. When completed the tower will be the highest building in the Netherlands, rising up to 165 meters. The building marks the transition from a former port to an international centre of trade and services.

There is no lack of activity in the city centre either. The Red Apple, designed by KCAP, will be the latest addition to the Rotterdam skyline. Located at the head of the Wijnhaven Island, the Red Apple is a 125-meter tall residential tower with shops, cafés, restaurants and other activities in the plinth, thus contributing to a livelier, more metropolitan atmosphere in an area now dominated by office blocks.
Nearby, MVRDV have designed the first covered Markethall in the Netherlands. The building will not only host a food market that resembles southern European markets like Barcelona’s La Boqueria, but is also a residential complex. Inside the hall there will be permanent market-booths instead of temporary stalls, also a first in the Netherlands.

Will everyone in Rotterdam live in high-rise residential condo by 2010? No, not everyone. Last year MVRDV completed the Didden village, a rooftop extension on top of a monumental house and artist’ studio. The extension consists of a series of separate ‘houses’ which are distributed in such a way that a series of plazas, streets and alleys appear as a mini-village on top of the building. The building can be seen as a prototype for a further densification of the old and existing city. One thing’s for sure, though: Rotterdam’s city centre and old harbours can be rebuilt, reused and redeveloped in many different ways, but the city is never finished.